Genesis 41:1
And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.
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(1) Pharaoh dreamed.—After two years spent in the prison, the time has now come for Joseph’s elevation to power; and it is to be noticed that this was not brought about by those arts by which men usually attain to greatness, such as statesmanship, or military skill; nor was it by accident, but according to the Biblical rule, by the direct intervention of Providence. Just as centuries afterwards, Daniel rose to high office at Babylon by God making known to him the dream of Nebuchadnezzar; so here, the transplantation of Israel into Egypt is brought about by the revelation to Joseph of “what was to be hereafter.”

The river.—Heb., Yeor, the Egyptian word for “great river.” It is the usual name in the Bible for the Nile, but is used for the Tigris in Daniel 12:5-6, and for any large river in Job 28:10. The Pharaoh in Those reign Joseph became governor of Egypt, is generally supposed to have been Apophis, the most famous of the shepherd kings. But Canon Cook, in his Essay, On the bearings of Egyptian History upon the Pentateuch, after carefully reviewing the whole subject, decides in favour of King Amenemha III., the greatest monarch of the noble twelfth dynasty, and the last king of all Egypt.

Genesis 41:1. At the end of two full years — After the butler’s restoration to his place. No doubt Joseph was some considerable time in prison before the keeper of the prison would so far trust him as to commit the other prisoners, especially the state prisoners, to his charge; and he was some time confined with them. Yet two years more pass away before his deliverance came. By this great and long-continued humiliation and trial, he was prepared for the extraordinary exaltation which God designed for him.41:1-8 The means of Joseph's being freed from prison were Pharaoh's dreams, as here related. Now that God no longer speaks to us in that way, it is no matter how little we either heed dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make no better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh's spirit was troubled.The dreams are recited. "By the river." In the dream Pharaoh supposes himself on the banks of the Nile. "On rite green." The original word denotes the reed, or marsh grass, on the banks of the Nile. The cow is a very significant emblem of fruitful nature among the Egyptians, the hieroglyphic symbol of the earth and of agriculture; and the form in which Isis the goddess of the earth was adored. "Dreamed a second time." The repetition is designed to confirm the warning given, as Joseph afterward explains Genesis 41:32. Corn (grain) is the natural emblem of fertility and nurture. "Blasted with the east wind The east wind". The east wind is any wind coming from the east of the meridian, and may be a southeast or a northeast, as well as a direct east. The Hebrews were accustomed to speak only of the four winds, and, therefore, must have used the name of each with great latitude. The blasting wind in Egypt is said to be usually from the southeast. "And, behold, it was a dream." The impression was so distinct as to be taken for the reality, until he awoke and perceived that it was only a dream. "His spirit was troubled." Like the officers in the prison Genesis 40:6, he could not get rid of the feeling that the twofold dream portended some momentous event. "The scribes" - the hieroglyphs, who belonged to the priestly caste, and whose primary business was to make hieroglyphic and other inscriptions; while they were accustomed to consult the stars, interpret dreams, practise soothsaying, and pursue the other occult arts. The sages; whose chief business was the cultivation of the various arts above mentioned, while the engraving or inscribing department strictly belonged to the hieroglyphs or scribes. "His dream;" the twofold dream. "Interpreted them" - the two dreams.CHAPTER 41

Ge 41:1-24. Pharaoh's Dream.

1. at the end of two full years—It is not certain whether these years are reckoned from the beginning of Joseph's imprisonment, or from the events described in the preceding chapter—most likely the latter. What a long time for Joseph to experience the sickness of hope deferred! But the time of his enlargement came when he had sufficiently learned the lessons of God designed for him; and the plans of Providence were matured.

Pharaoh dreamed—"Pharaoh," from an Egyptian word Phre, signifying the "sun," was the official title of the kings of that country. The prince, who occupied the throne of Egypt, was Aphophis, one of the Memphite kings, whose capital was On or Heliopolis, and who is universally acknowledged to have been a patriot king. Between the arrival of Abraham and the appearance of Joseph in that country, somewhat more than two centuries had elapsed. Kings sleep and dream, as well as their subjects. And this Pharaoh had two dreams in one night so singular and so similar, so distinct and so apparently significant, so coherent and vividly impressed on his memory, that his spirit was troubled.Pharaoh’s two dreams, Genesis 41:1-7. He is troubled; sends for interpreters; their inability, Genesis 41:8. The chief butler, sensible of his fault, remembers Joseph, Genesis 41:9; commends him to Pharaoh, Genesis 41:10-13, who causes him to be brought before him, Genesis 41:14, expecting the interpretation from him, Genesis 41:15. Joseph ascribes all to God, Genesis 41:16. Pharaoh relates his dreams to Joseph, Genesis 41:17-24. He interprets them, Genesis 41:25-31. The reason of their being doubled, Genesis 41:32. His advice to Pharaoh against the dearth to come, Genesis 41:33-36, which he approves of, Genesis 41:37; appoints him governor, next himself, over the whole land, Genesis 41:38-41. The ensigns of dignity and stately presents conferred on him, Genesis 41:42-44; also a new name, Zaphnath-paaneah, and a wife, Genesis 41:45. Joseph, now thirty years of age, makes a progress over all the land, inspects the stores, lays up provisions, Genesis 41:45-49; has two children, Manasseh and Ephraim, Genesis 41:50-52. Bad years come on; he supplies the country, Genesis 41:53-57.

1715 Two full years, after the butler’s restitution to his place. Heb. Years of days, for full years, as 2 Samuel 14:28 Jeremiah 28:3; as a month of days is put for a full month, Genesis 29:14, which is complete to a day. Nilus is called the river simply, because of its eminency, as Homer or Virgil are called the poet.

And it came to pass at the end of two full years,.... It is not a clear case, as Aben Ezra observes, from whence these years are to be reckoned, whether from the time of Joseph's being put into prison, or from the time that the chief butler was taken out of it; the latter seems more probable, and better connects this and the preceding chapter:

that Pharaoh dreamed, and, behold, he stood by the river; it seemed to him, in his dream, as if he stood near the river Nile, or some canal or flow of water cut out of that river.

And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh {a} dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

(a) This dream was not so much for Pharaoh, as is was a means to deliver Joseph and to provide for God's Church.

1–7. Pharaoh’s Dreams

1. two full years] i.e. from the execution of the chief baker.

river] Heb. Yeor, i.e. the Nile, as always in the O.T., except Job 28:10; Isaiah 33:21; Daniel 12:5-6. The Heb. word reproduces the Egyptian. According to Egyptologists it stands for the Egyptian aur, “stream,” or aur-aa, “the great stream,” Assyr. ia’uru, “stream.”Verse 1. - And it came to pass at the end of two full years (literally, two years of days, i.e. two complete years from the commencement of Joseph's incarceration, or more probably after the butler's liberation), that Pharaoh - on the import of the term vide Genesis 12:15. Under what particular monarch Joseph came to Egypt is a question of much perplexity, and has been variously resolved by modern Egyptologists in favor of -

1. Osirtasen I., the founder of the twelfth dynasty, a prosperous and successful sore-reign, whose name appears on a granite obelisk at Heliopolis (Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 1:30, ed. 1878).

2. Assa, or Assis, the fifth king of the fifteenth dynasty of Shepherd kings (Stuart Peele in Smith's 'Bible Dict.,' art. Egypt).

3. Apophis, a Shepherd king of the fifteenth dynasty, whom all the Greek authorities agree in mentioning as the patron of Joseph (Osburn, 'Menu-mental History,' vol. 2. Genesis 2; Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 42).

4. Thothmes III., a monarch of the eighteenth dynasty (Stanley Leathes in Kitto s 'Cyclopedia,' p. 744).

5. Rameses III., the king of Memphis, a ruler belonging to the twentieth dynasty (Bonomi in 'The Imperial Bible Dict.,' p. 488; Sharpe's ' History of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 35). It may assist the student to arrive at a decision with respect to these contending aspirants for the throne of Pharaoh in the time of Joseph to know that Canon Cook ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 451), after an elaborate and careful as well as scholarly review of the entire question, regards it as at least "a very probable conjecture" that the Pharaoh of Joseph was Amenemha III., "who is represented on the lately-discovered table of Abydos as the last great king of all Egypt in the ancient empire (the last of the twelfth dynasty), and as such receiving divine honors from his descendant Rameses" - dreamed. "For the third time are dreams employed as the agencies of Joseph's history: they first foreshadow his illustrious future; they then manifest that the Spirit of God had not abandoned him even in the abject condition of a slave and a prisoner; and lastly they are made the immediate forerunners of his greatness" (Kalisch.). And, behold, he stood by the river - i.e. upon the banks of the Nile, the term יֵלֺאר (an Egyptian word signifying great river or canal, in the Memphitic dialect yaro, in the Sahidic yero) being used almost exclusively in Scripture for the Nile (Exodus 1:22; Exodus 2:3; Exodus 7:15; Gesenius, 'Lex., p. 326). This was the common name for the Nile among the Egyptians, the sacred being Hapi (Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary,' p. 485). Encouraged by this favourable interpretation, the chief baker also told his dream: "I too, my dream: behold, baskets of white bread upon my head, and in the top basket all kinds of food for Pharaoh, pastry; and the birds ate it out of the basket from my head." In this dream, the carrying of the baskets upon the head is thoroughly Egyptian; for, according to Herod. 2, 35, the men in Egypt carry burdens upon the head, the women upon the shoulders. And, according to the monuments, the variety of confectionary was very extensive (cf. Hengst. p. 27). In the opening words, "I too," the baker points to the resemblance between his dream and the cup-bearer's. The resemblance was not confined to the sameness of the numbers-three baskets of white bread, and three branches of the vine-but was also seen in the fact that his official duty at the court was represented in the dream. But instead of Pharaoh taking the bread from his hand, the birds of heaven ate it out of the basket upon his head. And Joseph gave this interpretation: "The three baskets signify three days: within that time Pharaoh will take away thy head from thee ("lift up thy head," as in Genesis 40:13, but with מעליך "away from thee," i.e., behead thee), and hang thee on the stake (thy body after execution; vid., Deuteronomy 21:22-23), and the birds will eat thy flesh from off thee." However simple and close this interpretation of the two dreams may appear, the exact accordance with the fulfilment was a miracle wrought by God, and showed that as the dreams originated in the instigation of God, the interpretation was His inspiration also.
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